W.O.N. Mural Society. Image 12/20

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"Mystical, Magical New Orleans" by Marcus Akinlana, 1993, 8' x 100 ' repeated for 3 miles along the canal, medium bas concrete relief. Location: London Avenue Canal Floodwalls - Dillard University Campus, New Orleans, Louisiana. Sponsored by the Orleans Levee Board.


This project was sponsored by the Orleans Levee Board and administered by the Arts Council of New Orleans and fabricated by WON Mural Society, on the London Avenue canal floodwalls, with the idea that the artwork would beautify these very necessary floodwalls. Due to engineering concerns I had to keep the design of the relief simple. Nowhere is the relief deeper than one and a quarter inch, which is very low relief.

The commission called for something that represented the "social gumbo" found in the different cultures of New Orleans and how they went into the pot that creates that unique New Orleans flavor. There are three recurring panels showing three different scenes. One panel shows jazz music, which of course was born in New Orleans.

The second panel shows a Marie Laveaux styled figure, who was one of New Orleans most renowned voodoo priestess, with a large python. They used to have voodoo rituals in certain localities within the city limits of New Orleans. The local voodoo was a mixture of African religion, Catholicism and other influences.

The third panel shows dancers, going back to the rituals they had at Congo Square, once a gathering place for slaves. This relief sculpture shows multiculturalism but with a heavy emphasis toward the Afro-New Orleans culture because the walls are placed in Gentilly (a neighborhood) which is the heart of the black community.